Opinion | Elisabeth Lawrence: Working tirelessly to find solutions with community input
Summit County commissioner District 1 Democratic incumbent
- Occupation: Summit County commissioner
- Years in Summit County: 18
- Family: Married with a daughter at Summit High School
- Civic involvement: Carriage House Early Learning Center board president, Upper Blue Elementary PTA president, Breckenridge Childcare Advisory Committee chair, Summit County Libraries board of directors, Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow, Breckenridge Open Space Advisory Committee, Breckenridge Heritage Alliance, Breckenridge Creative Arts, Building Hope Summit County, High Country Soccer Association, Summit County Arts Forum, Summit Stage Transit Board, Summit Chamber of Commerce, Summit High School Accountability Committee, Colorado State Search & Rescue
In 2019, I was selected to fill a vacancy on the Summit Board of County Commissioners. In my nearly two years of service, I have learned how essential it is for local working families to be represented. It is also essential for commissioners to work tirelessly, more than a full-time job, to serve the people of this community. Additionally, the job of commissioner requires endless input from and engagement with our residents and the ability to listen and work on their behalf to solve community issues. This includes not just collaborating with the other commissioners and county staff to implement policy, but to seek solutions statewide that can address the challenges and needs in our community. I am that person.
I am proud to have initiated a strategic planning process for Summit County government that kicks off Nov. 5. This will involve not only county staff and leadership, but our partner organizations and our community. It is essential that Summit has a vision and plan. Where do we want to be in 2030? What kind of community do we want to leave our children? How can county government be a positive force for residents, business and guests? It is time we look at all facets of county business and evaluate and set priorities of our government responsibilities while remaining good fiscal stewards. Together, we must consider these questions and then formulate the plans and policies to reach the goals.
Three of our four ski areas are in unincorporated Summit County, managed by Summit County government. It’s important that our Countywide Master Plan, Basin Master Plans and county services (such as Summit Stage transit) support our tourism economy, our local families and our workforce, while also making sure that we retain our unique community character. Summit County needs to remain an excellent place for our locals to live, work and play, but that can’t happen by accident. It will take real planning, thoughtful decisions and robust community input.
As Summit grows and changes, it is imperative that we adjust along with it and hear from new sectors of our community. In today’s busy world, one that requires many of our locals to work multiple jobs, we can no longer expect our citizens to reach out to us. I suggest holding quarterly town-hall-style meetings so that we can go out in the communities that we serve. I look forward to working with residents of Dillon Valley on addressing walkability challenges, understanding impacts of short-term rentals in Wildernest and providing additional outdoor recreation access to residents of Summit Cove. We continue to see pressures of changing neighborhoods such as Peak 7, Silver Shekel and north of Silverthorne; it’s important their issues are heard.
Summit County is facing challenges to our environment due to climate change. We have an opportunity to enable strong policy to address our Climate Action Plan and goals of net zero. In the same way that our Climate Action Plan came to be, this will require collaboration from all of our towns and our vital community partners. The time to get started on this work is now. I look forward to learning and working with others on changes that will have lasting, positive impacts on our environment. Summit County historically has a severe problem with waste diversion, falling below both the state and national average. We have an added challenge of millions of visitors a year that need to learn how we compost and recycle, but I believe there are solutions out there and ones that will work here.
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Our voters have told us over and over that child care is important to them, and I’m proud to be a champion with a record of success. In fact, my community involvement in Summit County originated with early childhood education. For nearly a decade, I was a single mother in Summit County, raising my daughter while working multiple jobs. I understand personally how early learning for the children of our workforce is vital to our economic recovery and economic stability. With this in mind, I chaired Summit County’s successful campaign for Right Start funding. But we need additional child care and specialized care for all of the children in our community, and I am committed to this ongoing priority.
Serving as your commissioner has been an honor, and I ask for your support to continue to serve you. I am just getting started. With your input and my dedication, we can continue to make Summit County a place of progress, prosperity and protected natural beauty.
Elisabeth Lawrence is the Democratic incumbent for Summit County commissioner District 1.
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